Food magazines weighing down shelves-- what to do?
So reading about everybody's favorite magazines made me want to go out and buy more, but my shelves are already full! What do you do with old magazines: keep them all, tear out the recipes you make and file them (or something), toss them all except for your favorites, donate them to the rummage (would they take them?)?
I used to be able to set my hands on a recipe because I would remember it was in the CI with the squash on front, or whatever, but now I have too many and I'm having trouble finding things, in addition to having full shelves.
I think I should tear out what I want, but my memory is very bad, and after a year or two, I could happily reread an issue and think it was new, so why toss it?
My basement is full, so don't even think about suggesting that.
What do you do?
I don't keep my cooking magazines. I tear out the recipes that I like and then I file them in a narrow plastic file container which I keep in a kitchen cupboard. I file the recipes by category so it makes it pretty easy to find them again. When the storage box is getting too full, I look at them and get rid of the ones that I don't think I'll use. I've had some for 15 years or so!
At one point I cut out every recipe I thought I would want to try out of my 200-300 or so back issues of Groumet, Bon Ap, Fine Cooking, Saveur, etc. And filed them in several notebooks by catagory. It was a HUGE job. I ended up with probably 1500 recipes. But now it's really fun to plan menus for the week by just popping into these binders. Now as mags come in (I try to only have 1 or 2 subscriptions at a time), I cut out what I want and file them.
If you don't want to suffer through that process (and really, so many recipes are on line now), I also bring old mags into my doctor's, and kid's doctor's offices, my gym (which is really lacking on reading material), clinics, anyplace with a waiting room, especially those on a budget. Just about any magazine at the gym disappears in a day or two.
All the food magazine seem to be snapped up quickly when offered to the Boston area Freecycle list. You can see if there is a group in your area.
I usually wait until I have one of those small shopping bags full to offer and then send out an email to my food friends. If they don't want them I freecyle them. So far, someone has come to get them from me every time.
Please think carefully before dropping your old magazines off at the library. Most people assume they're the very first person ever to offer 75 years of National Geographic to the library, and the library will surely be grateful. But the truth is, unless you live in a very small town, your public library will often have a good collection of these things already. Call them first. The suggestion to offer magazines to a cooking school is a good one; you could also try a local vocational high school that might have food service training programs.
As for what I do with my copies, I add the recipes that interest me to my del.icio.us (!) account (http://del.icio.us) and tag them with various terms (sidedishes, vegetables, breakfast, etc.). I am a librarian, after all, so I do get something out of organizing and cataloging things. Then I cut out whatever's not available online and file it away. If anything's left, it gets recycled.
Note to publishers: consider putting your archives online (articles and recipes), either behind a barrier for paid subscribers, or better yet, for free, for everyone.
Depending on how old they are, a used bookstore won't take em (tried that), but I know who will. Libraries. Any kind. Sometimes they will have archives, and use copies for that purpose. Other times, they will send the mags out for binding and make a complete collection! So it's best not to rip bits out if that's what you're wanting to do with them.
Also, and your local library might be able to help you here, teachers are often in need of magazines, either for class, or for cooking schools, etc (who also may have libraries).
Anyway, that's what I'd do.
I try and limit myself to ten to twenty of the "everyday" mags. Cooks Illustrated and Saveur are the only ones that I will not throw out because those are principally recipe and writing driven. Pound for pound, you're saving more ads than writing for your Gourmets et al.
I generally select the best of the batch, then select the best of the best. If the pile is still too big, I pick out the best of the REST. The rest I toss.
Between online recipe sources and anthologies of "Best Of" writing, there's little need to save every copy. I'll grant you this, it is a damn shame to have to toss so many great mags. Donate them, sell them to a used bookstore...